Cristina Stancioiu

Art History, Williamsburg
Fellowship: 15.10.2017–14.07.2018



Cristina Stancioiu (Ph.D., UCLA, 2009) is Assistant Professor of Art History at the College of William and Mary in Virginia. Her research explores issues of cultural identity and dialogue between Byzantium, Europe, and the Muslim world from the period of the Crusades through the seventeenth century, spanning a diversity of traditional artistic media and genres, and focusing on theories of identity, ritual behavior, gender display, and pre-Modern Colonialism. She is now developing a book project on portraiture in Mediterranean areas with diverse populations, exploring how secular portraiture reveals developments in intercultural identity, community, subversion, social class, and gender. Recent awards include fellowships from the American Philosophical Society, International Center of Medieval Art, and the Council of American Overseas Research Centers.


Fields of Research

  • Mediterranean studies
  • Portraiture
  • Identity
  • Ritual
  • Art
  • Architecture
  • Colonialism
  • Subversion
  • Fashion


Project outline

Portraiture in the Eastern Mediterranean, 13th-16th Centuries


A genre not native to the Mediterranean islands of Crete, Rhodes, and Cyprus, secular portraiture was introduced with foreign hegemony and exploded across all social strata and traditional media, including mural painting, sculpture, and ceramics. These islands harbored Byzantine communities under European rule and ports-of-call on the east-west trade route between Europe and the Levant. Traditional disciplines each contributed to—but cannot exhaust—the Mediterranean character of the integration occurring on these islands, which have been primarily studied in light of their insularity, rather than their connectedness. Interdisciplinary at its core, this study shows how issues of interculturality, community, social class, gender, and shifts in identity can be fully interrogated through art, thus demonstrating the fundamental role of the visual arts to Mediterranean Studies, and the centrality of Byzantium and meta-Byzantine developments to our understanding of pre-modern cultural history and identity formation. This study reveals how ethnic, religious, and aesthetic identities maintain their integrity even as they merge towards a pan-Mediterranean culture. The visual evidence from the islands reveals a wider scope of portraiture reaching the lower social levels and unraveling (auto)biographic evidence. These large-scale, personal and individualized images must be integrated into the history of European portraiture, the pre-modern pursuit of the individual, and the study of the Self.


Publications (Selection)

  • »It Figures: Artistic and Sartorial Trends in Cyprus between Byzantium and the West,« in Maria Parani and Athanasios Vionis, eds., Byzantium in Transition. (Forthcoming, Cambridge University Press).
  • »Sartorial Choices in Eastern Mediterranean Portraiture, 13th-15th Centuries,« in Rosita d’Amora and Tineke Rooijakkers, eds., The Politics of Dress and Identity in Eastern Mediterranean Societies, Past and Present (Forthcoming, Brill Publishers).
  • »Medieval Art in the Balkans« (with Rossitza Schroeder), in Thomas daCosta Kaufmann, ed., Oxford Bibliographies in Art History (Forthcoming, Oxford University Press, 2017).
  •  »On the Painted Ancestry of Domenikos Theotokopoulos’ Sacred Landscape of Mount Sinai and the Monastery of St. Catherine,« in S. Gerstel and R. Nelson, eds., Approaching the Holy Mountain: Art and Liturgy at St. Catherine’s Monastery in the Sinai (Brepols, 2010, 537-62).
  • »I ever loved thee, lady mine and yet my love increases: Rhodian Portrait Ceramics and Cultural Dialogue in the Mediterranean,« Al-Masaq: Islam and the Medieval Mediterranean 22.9 (2010): 129-50.
  • »Not in the excellent ancient Greek style: Beauty and Aesthetics in Late Byzantium,« Medieval and Early Modern Studies 1.1-4 (2009): 77-106.
  • Review of Holly Hurlburt, Daughter of Venice: Caterina Corner, Queen of Cyprus and Woman of the Renaissance (New Heaven and London: Yale University Press, 2015). The Historian, forthcoming, 2016.
  • In progress: »Staging Transformation: Liminality and Opus Sectile Pavements in Medieval Byzantium.«
  • In progress: »The Pleasures of Sight, Taste, and Touch in Byzantium: A Case Study in Cypriot Ceramics.«